The 5 Whiskers On Your Chin

May 31, 2012

As a thinker I often find myself, well, sitting and thinking. And while sitting back and analyzing has its benefits I am realizing it pales in comparison to actual experiences.

photo by watchsmart

I can sit and ponder the meaning of life day in and day out, but pondering is only that, and  it often leaves me in the same place from which I started. Sitting and thinking.

I was listening to Donald Miller’sA Million Miles In a Thousand Years” today as I have so many times before. I seriously think I could listen to the same chapter over and over again and something different would jump out at me every time.

This time as I listened I was struck by the power of experience.

The getting out and doing something worth telling a story about. Donald, in his book, is determined to write a better story with his life. He is searching through what actually makes a great story when he realized how many times he had met friends in coffee shops for talks, and couldn’t remember any one in particular. They all blended together into a jumble of coffee shop memories.

He did, however remember very vividly the time when he and a close friend tied two canoes together and floated out on a lake for a picnic. It was different, it was experiential and he remembered it vividly.

It’s the same for me. When I think back on growing up, highschool years, college or the years Michael and I have been married most of it blends together into a slow dance of sorts with bursts of breakout moves.

The slow dance parts of my life I remember mainly in a big foggy clump. The breakout parts I remember with crystal clear clarity.

I remember winning the high jump in 4th grade. The rush of pride that overcame me as all of my classmates cheered me on was invaluable. I still have the medal I won that day.

I remember dancing across the stage with wild abandon in highschool. This was my last-ditch attempt to make ‘the cut’ in a play after a string of failures. I had decided it was now or never and either I would look like a fool flailing my arms and tossing my body awkwardly across stage or I would make the cut from sheer uniqueness. I made the part, and playing that part changed my life forever.

I remember walking through the Potala Palace in Tibet, the home of the Dalai Lama, the floor soft and greasy from thousands of years of burning candles made from yak oil. I remember eating a yakburger later and thinking the pungent meat reminded me of the smell of goats.

I remember showing orphan kids how to brush their teeth in Mongolia and seeing their eyes light up when we gave them their very own toothbrush. I remember one little boy’s name was “no name.” I couldn’t believe no one had ever bothered to name him. 

I also remember taking care of my grandmom when she was still alive. I gave her a much-needed haircut for which she was thankful. I, however got a little cocky with my skills and ended up, “Sheering her like a poodle.” in my grandmothers words. We laughed in the mirror together as her gray curls hugged tightly against her small head. I also helped her shave the 5 hairs that seem to incessantly grow out of your chin as you get old.

I remember nearly tripping down the aisle to marry Michael. My dress was too long and with each step I took I kicked my dress with my blue sneakers to keep from tripping. I remember seeing his face when he saw me. It didn’t matter that I was kicking my dress as I walked. I have never seen eyes sparkle so brightly.

I remember saying goodbye to my new mom (Michael’s mom), just before she died. The cancer had shrunken her body to almost nothing. We kissed her and hugged her and told her we loved her, and that we would see her again soon. And we will. We will.

I remember huddling over our baby son at 3 in the morning feeding him with an eyedropper. Michael was by my side and both of us were haggard from a lack of sleep. I remember moments later hearing a loud scream and as I ran around the corner to help, I glimpsed Michael’s horrified face. His hands were holding our son’s legs in the air and poop was spraying across the room like pellets from a gun, hitting everything in it’s path.

These are all experiences. They are lived and breathed and woven into the fabric of who I am. They have shaped me and I have stories to tell from them.

Not all are happy stories, by any means, but life isn’t just lived in the happy stories. It is lived in the everyday, in the awakening and breathing in the touching and kissing and laughing and crying and loosing. But, it is enhanced and deepened by experiences.

Had I remained sitting and pondering life idly, I would have never jumped my heart out in 4th grade, challenging the horizons of my capabilities or smelled the yak candles in Tibet. I would have never danced my way to freedom in a highschool play, nearly tripped down the aisle to marry my love or met and loved and lost his beautiful mom. I would have never hugged an orphan with no name in Mongolia or laughed with my grandmom at her “sheered poodle” hair and 5 whiskers, or fed my beautiful baby boy from an eyedropper.

I love experiences, I do. I think they shape us. They give us depth, understanding and beauty. And they make our lives become a spectacular story.

Question: What standout experiences have helped shaped your life?


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  • Reply Chris Peek June 1, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing. I don’t think I realized before that Michael’s mom had passed away. I’m sorry to hear that. As you pointed out, when we live life, we will experience a range of happy times and struggles.

    I too get bogged down in thinking rather than experiencing, but I’ve attempted to be more intentional this past year about creating those life experiences you wrote about. Experiences that have shaped my life include: praying to receive Christ, getting married, taking two youth mission trips to inner-city Chicago, going on a medical mission trip to Thailand, walking with my wife through her chronic condition including two surgeries, and helping her publish a cookbook.

    • Reply Claudia Good June 1, 2012 at 2:13 pm



      Michael’s mom died soon after we were married. She was beautiful, passionate and incredibly supportive. She gave Michael and his 7 siblings the gift of dreaming (I think) and I see her strength and compassion in all of them. I think it has instilled in him and them, the frailty of life and the necessity to live life to it’s fullest – NOW!

      I love that you are embracing more experiences! Hey, you were on a “trail talk” with Justin a bit ago and you are online talking to us and sharing your own life! http://www.trailreflections.com/… and soon to welcome us to your house! hee-he 😉
      Seems like you are tasting and loving your life adventure and we are pumped to walk with you through it!!

      • Reply Chris Peek June 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm

        I didn’t know anyone watched that “Trail Talk” other than my mom. 🙂 Can’t wait to welcome you guys down in VA! Likewise, I’m thrilled that we are all on this trail together.

        • Reply Claudia Good June 1, 2012 at 6:21 pm

          hahah – Nope, not just your mom 🙂 We, watched it and loved it! It was so great that you did something that you wouldn’t normally do and have fun doing it! Did you find anything in that old abandoned building??

          • Chris Peek June 1, 2012 at 11:05 pm

            Thanks! It was a lot of fun. There wasn’t anything in the building. Someone who saw the video said it was an old deer hunting hut.

          • Claudia Good June 3, 2012 at 9:48 pm

            sad. I was hoping for some great adventure story where you fought off the mountain lion and bear with just a carving knife… or something along those lines 😉

          • Chris Peek June 4, 2012 at 7:16 am

            Sorry to disappoint. 🙁 I should have made up a heroic tale, but my practical side was just glad someone solved the mystery because we couldn’t figure what it was built for.

  • Reply Donna Yates June 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Claudia, This was so well said! You have a way with words and inspire me so. Thank you. I started thinking about all the experiences that have shaped my life or that just stand out so much in my mind and make me smile. As you stated, some are happy times like the first time I looked into the eyes of both my children once they were placed in my arms and sad times like when both my father and my husband passed away in the same month. The thing about the bad experiences is that even though I lost two people whom I loved, I don’t really think about the day they died as much as I think about their lives and what they meant to me. You are right in that we need to start living life instead of always pondering the next step. I forget that sometimes. You know I’m trying to sell my house right now and I am having a hard time just letting it be. I want it to sell right now and that’s all that’s on my mind. The sell means I can move forward with moving to NC. Without the sell, I can’t. SO, I am trying to “be still”. Not really doing very well so far. Thanks again for all your encouragement. Hope you have a great weekend.

    • Reply Claudia Good June 1, 2012 at 11:18 pm

      I’m so glad!

      Wow. Wow. Wow. I can’t imagine what you went through loosing your husband and dad the same month! What helped you get through those dark days?
      I really love how you said you don’t think about the day they died as much as how they lived!

      You are definitely in a trying time… waiting for your house to sell! Are you working on any of your business ideas at the moment to help pass the time? Have you had any interest in your house?
      May you find peace in your time of waiting and courage to face the future with boldness.

      • Reply Donna Yates June 4, 2012 at 7:57 am

        I think my mind has been so cluttered lately that I can’t see the forest for the trees! I am trying to focus more on selling the house right now and not get so down when it doesn’t sell TODAY! I am also still looking at job ideas for my move. Yes, going through the deaths was very emotional and trying but hopefully I came out a stronger person and translated that to my children.

        • Reply Claudia Good June 6, 2012 at 9:30 am

          I can imagine it has been Donna! Are you selling it on your own or through a realtor?

          • Donna Yates June 6, 2012 at 9:39 am

            Selling myself. I had a realtors license in 2011 and tried selling for a year, but with the market like it was, I didn’t have much success. I was trying to sell part-time and work full time so I couldn’t give it my full attention. When it came time to renew my MLS membership, I decided to retire my license. I had already spent so much money just to get stated in the RE business and just couldn’t see spending more especially with the market still being depressed. I’m glad I gave it a try as it had always been something I thought I might like since I have bought, fixed up and sold several homes through the years. So, selling the house myself seemed like the best route. Since the market is still quite depressed, I’ve not had too many lookers yet. Still hopeful though! Thanks for asking.

          • Claudia Good June 6, 2012 at 10:14 am

            You are a wealth of different experiences! That is cool that you tried being a realtor and then took account of the situation and moved on. I’m sure that knowledge has been so valuable to you over the years… and obviously right now!

          • Donna Yates June 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

            HaHa! Thanks Claudia. I love doing so many things and I’m the kind of person that has to have a project going all the time so I’ve tried a ton of thing! I’m also not afraid to try so that’s both good and bad sometimes 🙂

  • Reply Ann Musico June 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Claudia you are definitely a beautiful story-teller/writer! How perfectly you expressed the importance of really living life – not just pondering it. You are so young and have had so many adventures already – I hear the adventurousness in your posts and when you speak on video. It’s so safe and easy to just sit and “ponder” as you put it – but so boring and flat. You have to step out and take a chance as you have so many times. I love hearing about your life!

    • Reply Claudia Good June 1, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      Well thank you Ann, that is so kind of you! I truly, truly appreciate it!

  • Reply crystalmgood June 2, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Beautiful post, Claudia. Brought me to tears and laughter all in one post. 🙂
    Your truth is lovely.

    • Reply char June 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      Me to. 😉

    • Reply Claudia Good June 3, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      I was crying and laughing as well Crystal 🙂 Especially crying thinking of and remembering your dear sweet mom. I miss her.

  • Reply Michael Wright June 7, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    I totally agree with Ann. Your writing and story telling are fabulous, Claudia. Driving up the east coast and into Canada a week after I got my driver’s license was probably my first adventure that marked me. Going to Scotland on a whim with my wife to a wedding was another one, then getting totally lost and befriending strangers who helped us out, and then sharing some of Scotland’s finest ale with them later! Having a pregnant young lady with no home live with us until her baby was a few months old was another marked story for us both. Most of my life has been close to home. The Queen is not adventurous at all unless there is a good reason for going! I’ll have to say that just being married and having a child has marked my soul in a deep way like nothing else. It hasn’t been boring, I will tell you that! LOL…

    • Reply Michael Good June 9, 2012 at 10:15 pm

      Sounds like you went on some pretty cool adventures, Michael!

  • Reply Ryan Ash January 11, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    Claudia, I so hope that you write a book one day! Your writing is truly incredible. You had be going from sentimental to sad and happy and back again…all in a very short period of time. Great thoughts, and funny story about Michael and Jude. 🙂

    • Reply Claudia Good January 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      It is happening as you speak! 🙂 Just finished writing our goals guide for couples! Truly a blast. Can’t believe I actually wrote a book!

      Thanks for your comment here. Your comments are always so uplifting! It was fun to look back over the post myself and laugh at the flying poop story. hahhaa.

      Hi to sweet Ashley!

      • Reply Ryan Ash January 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

        Thanks, Claudia! That’s awesome! When does it go “live”? I’m really looking forward to that because I think it could be really beneficial to us!

        Ashley says to tell you hi!

        • Reply Claudia Good January 16, 2013 at 1:13 pm

          We are just putting the final touches on it so some copies are going out this week and then it will be available on the blog asap! 🙂 It has been really fun to get something down on paper together.

          Yes, I think you will really enjoy it for sure!

          • Ryan Ash January 16, 2013 at 5:16 pm

            I’ll definitely be watching for it!

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